Freaky Friday

Paranorma & Millennium


Behind the Black Curtain

It's the United States government's most secret base. Freedom of information activists say the public has a right to know what's going on there. UFO buffs say the Air Force is hiding alien saucers there. Environmentalists say the highfalutin secrecy is just a cheesy scam to cover up illegal toxic-waste disposal. HIGH TIMES reporter Max Powers journeys to the Nevada deserts to probe behind the Air Force's veil at the mysterious Area 51.

Glenn Campbell stands atop a remote ridge in the desert of south-central Nevada. He peers through a high-powered telescope at a vast, dry lake bed in the distance below.

Through waves of heat distortion, Campbell's telescope picks up an airfield. There are several large hangars, radar dishes, scattered warehouse-sized buildings, five 747s and what is believed to be the longest runway in the world.

To get to his remote perch, Campbell evaded electronic road sensors, which detect vehicles driving up to the ridge. He snuck by a Blackhawk helicopter and was followed by men in unmarked white jeeps who trained high-powered telephoto video cameras on his every move.

To Campbell, it's all in a day's work. A self-described "anti-PR person" who agitates against government secrecy, Campbell hopes to unveil the mysteries behind this distant airstrip, nestled just inside a restricted Air Force bombing range north of Las Vegas.

The 35-year-old retired software designer has authored a guide on how to outwit Air Force countersurveillance. Among his weapons is a portable radio scanner that picks up communications between the control tower and pilots. The pocket gizmo crackles with garbled aerospeak: altimeter readings, bearings, wind direction. "...Wind is out of the northwest, Watchdog is in effect."

"The tower referred to Watchdog," Campbell notes with glee. "That means they know there's someone up here on the ridge, watching the airfield. All pilots going in and out of the base have to know they're being watched."

For 40 years, the dehydrated alkali basin known as Groom Lake has been the key test site for the war machine's most secret airborne weapons. In this forgotten corner, the CIA and Air Force tested their most sensitive planes--from the U-2 spy plane, first flown over the USSR. in the '50s, to the F-117 "stealth" fighter, unveiled in the invasion of Panama.

But if you believe the official government line, there's nothing to see in this barren lakebed. Though the Air Force occasionally admits there's an "operation location in the area," everything that happens at the base--even its name and the fact that it exists--is classified. Officially, everything Campbell sees through the desert haze is strictly a mirage.

But some, like Campbell, who hike to this remote hilltop see it differently. They call their scruffy knoll of sagebrush and Joshua trees "Freedom Ridge," because it lies on public land outside the restricted bombing range and boasts a perfectly legal view of the secret base. To them, Groom Lake has become a symbol of excessive and outdated government paranoia.

"It's fundamental that democracy is an open institution," says Campbell. "The military is the only branch of government permitted to keep things secret."

The Dreamland Nightmare

In the lore of "black budget" operations--tales pieced together from government sources, former workers and military contractors--this somewhat unspectacular airfield is unofficially dubbed "Dreamland," or "Paradise Ranch." Officially, the activists and conspiracy theorists obsessed with the mysterious base believe, it is called Area 51. The secrecy around it has bred amazing stories--such as the rumor that the Air Force is hiding alien UFOs at the base.

Behind closed doors, brass and fighter jocks are afforded lavish dining, a swimming pool, a bowling alley, X-rated movies and several bars. The facility also gives test pilots and engineers total freedom to tweak the Pentagon's most futuristic warfare technology.

But all is not well in Dreamland.

Because the Air Force hopes to restrict public access to the land around Campbell's perch, military buffs, journalists and UFO watchers have flocked to the ridge to get a last glimpse of Groom Lake. The increased attention has made a mockery of military secrecy as the facility becomes, in Campbell's words, "the most popular secret Air Force base in the world."

And if the spotlight weren't enough, Groom Lake is now perched atop a long list of scandals--including the Aldrich Ames spy case--that have tarnished the cloak-and-dagger crowd in recent years.

Two lawsuits filed by former workers at the facility allege that the Air Force used the veil of secrecy to cover up environmental crimes. According to the suit, the Air Force trucked toxic waste to the base, where workers were told to burn the materials in open pits and trenches the size of football fields.

"The military and its contractors would load up trenches and fill them with 55-gallon drums," says Jonathan Turley, an attorney for the workers. "The drums would then be covered with paper and other materials, doused with jet fuel and lit with a flare or torch."

The suit names the Defense Department, the Air Force and the National Security Agency as allowing the burning to continue. And it blames the Environmental Protection Agency for not monitoring the secret base. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act requires the EPA to inventory toxic waste at federal facilities.

"It really is Dreamland," notes Turley, who works for the Washington-based Environmental Crimes Project. "What corporation doesn't dream of a place to dump its waste completely outside the purview of civil law?"

Because the plaintiffs swore secrecy when they began working at Groom Lake, they fear recrimination. A federal judge, therefore, has allowed the workers to sue as "John Does," so the government can't learn their identities. The threat of Leavenworth kept workers silent for years and made medical care near impossible.

"The first problem was, when he went to the doctor, he couldn't say where he worked or what he might have been exposed to," recalls Helen Frost, referring to her late husband, Robert, who she believes died from exposure to the burning.

Robert Frost was a sheet-metal worker at the secret facility for 10 years. "Then one day, he came home screaming," his widow says. "His face was burning, his eyes were burning and he ran to the bathroom and was pouring water on his face, which was bright red and swollen up like a basketball."

Then Robert Frost got three-inch sores on his back and eventually became too weak to walk, says Helen Frost. A year later, in 1989, he died of cirrhosis of the liver. By that time, a sample of his tissue had been sent to Dr. Peter Kahn, a biochemist at Rutgers University and a former member of the Agent Orange Commission.

Kahn found high levels of lethal toxins in Frost's fatty tissue. Those chemicals, Kahn said, likely worsened his liver ailment and hastened his death. As to where the toxins came from, Kahn wrote: "Continued exposure to the smoke from the incineration of these materials could result in above-normal levels of dioxins and dibenzofurans found in the tissue samples of Robert Frost."

Enraged by the government's refusal to take responsibility for her husband's death, Helen Frost began a one-woman crusade. "They're murdering people out there, and I want it to stop," she says.

For its part, the Air Force refuses to comment on the lawsuit, only giving the sketchiest admission that a facility even exists at Groom Lake--a restricted bombing area known as the Nellis Air Force Gunnery Range. "There is an operating location near Groom Dry Lake," an Air Force spokesperson reads from a script. "Some specific activities and operations conducted on the Nellis Range remain classified and can't be discussed."

The Pentagon has tried and failed to use the military and state-secrets privilege to get the workers' case thrown out of court. Meanwhile, EPA lawyers will also not comment, except to point out that the agency has, since the lawsuit, inventoried the Groom Lake facility.

Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Closet

If the allegations are true, then all the secrecy surrounding Groom Lake may have more to do with covering asses than protecting national security. First used as a weapon to outpace the Soviets, secrecy has become a tool to cut costs as regulators and citizens become more aware of the dangers of toxic waste.

Critics of closed-door government, meanwhile, have added the Groom Lake debacle to their list of "black budget" misdeeds that prove the government can't be trusted with secrecy. The Aldrich Ames spy case revealed gross neglect within the CIA. The National Reconnaissance Office, which develops the government's spy satellites, erected a $300 million building inside the Washington Beltway without the go-ahead of congressional overseers.

Critics say these episodes prove that intelligence oversight by civilians is lax at best. They say the Pentagon should declassify thousands of Cold War secrets, just as the Energy Department recently fessed up about human radiation experiments.

"If you believe, as I do, that there may be some legitimate secrets worth protecting, then the credibility of the classification system is extremely important," says Steve Aftergood, who runs a government-secrecy project for the Federation of American Scientists in Washington. "But if the system is seen as arbitrary, that it's used to cover up crimes, then people will lose faith. The technology they're working on out at Groom Lake may be sensitive; the fact that there's a facility out there somewhere isn't." Aftergood adds that how much the government spends on secret weapons programs should be public.

Usually, the total amount of the intelligence budget--believed to be roughly $38 billion--is a state secret. Last year, however, the House defense appropriations subcommittee mistakenly published the 1995 budget requests for the CIA and various Defense Department intelligence programs. In a nutshell, here it is:

*The total Pentagon request for what's called command, control, communication and intelligence (C3I) programs was $50.6 billion. This included $14.9 billion for the command, control and communication bit, $2 billion for security activities, and an estimated $5 billion for information technology programs. Originally designed to coordinate nuclear weapons, the C3I system is increasingly being used to track drug smugglers.

*The DOD also requested $16.3 billion for the National Foreign Intelligence Program (NFIP). This doesn't count several billion thrown into NFIP via the DEA, the FBI and the State, Treasury and Energy departments.

*For tactical intelligence and related activities, the Pentagon asked for $10.4 billion. The budget request for the CIA was $3.1 billion.

What you don't know...

Though the congressional goof sheds some light, it gives taxpayers little insight into what's being done with their dough. Is it funding weapons programs now being tested in Western deserts? Is it spent on overseas intelligence gathering or covert operations? Satellites or stealth spy planes? All of the above?

One thing is clear: In the absence of a single global bogeyman like the USSR, there's considerable debate as to whether or not continued secrecy is good, even for national security.

In his book Skunk Works, the former head of Lockheed's elite production group, called the Skunk Works, argues that secrecy did ease development of the F-117 fighter. As it was designed to thwart Soviet radar, the element of surprise was crucial, he says.

However, even Rich is far from dogmatic: "I would strongly advocate reviews every two years of existing so-called black programs, either to declassify them or eliminate them entirely."

Throughout the book, Rich complains of draconian secrecy provisions, of government inspectors sifting through garbage looking for mistakenly discarded secrets. Blueprints and even coffee mugs with pictures of secret planes had to be locked inside safes each night. When Rich was a Skunk Works rookie, he invented a urine tube that wouldn't freeze to a pilot's pecker at freezing-cold high altitudes. The gizmo was classified top-secret. Classification is time-consuming and drives up costs, Rich laments, adding that "once a program is classified, it takes an act of God to declassify it."

...Can Cost You

Indeed, excessive Cold War secrecy is partly to blame for some of the most expensive defense boondoggles of the century. During the Reagan years, for example, reigning doctrine made openness with Congress nearly synonymous with advertising state secrets in Pravda.

In the mid-'80s, for example, government investigators discovered that military officials misled Congress about the costs, performance and the necessity of many of the most expensive weapons systems built for nuclear war against the Soviet Union.

In fact, the General Accounting Office concluded that Congress decided to spend $350 billion on new nuclear-weapons systems, including the B-1B and B-2 stealth bombers, partly on the basis of inflated assessments, inaccurate testimony and misleading reports, according to the New York Times.

To take one example, the Air Force told Congress that a B-1B's radar cross-section (the amount of radar energy an aircraft reflects) was 1/100 that of a B-52, a statement later determined to be false. The correct figure remains secret.

And though the B-1 is now touted as an effective bomber, it was plagued for years by cost overruns, delays and technical problems that cost taxpayers billions and kept the fleet grounded for two years after the planes were introduced.

Then there was the ill-fated A-12. Designers of this super-secret Navy attack plane spent billions before top brass realized it was flawed. Because of secrecy provisions, government auditors and even high-ranking officials were kept in the dark long after the program was internally shot down. Realizing this, former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney angrily canceled the program.

See no evil...

Proponents of continued classification and big intelligence budgets say the Skunk Works and Groom Lake kept America ahead in the Cold War. But why all this secrecy in the post-Cold War world?

Established by the CIA in the 1950s to develop the U-2, Groom Lake has been the testing ground for a series of Skunk Works projects. The next big Cold War weapon to roll down its runway was the SR-71 Blackbird. Skunk Works engineers designed the Blackbird to travel three times the speed of sound and reach 90,000 feet, to outpace enemy jets and ground-to-air missiles. Perhaps the most famous plane to graduate from Groom Lake's hangars, however, is the F-117.

What is the Air Force up to now? Some of the military-hardware hounds say the blue-suiters are now developing a line of supersonic reconnaissance aircraft--a successor to the SR-71. A videographer in New Mexico may have captured just that--the grainy image of a bat-like black plane being called the Black Manta, or TR-3A tactical reconnaissance spy plane.

Since then, Popular Science has reported sightings of a new supersonic attack plane being called the A-17, which also employs stealth technology. Still others say the Air Force uses Groom Lake to take apart and test stolen enemy--and ally--aircraft in an attempt to dissect their secrets. And, of course, the rumors persist of alien spacecraft.

Stealth-seekers throughout the Southwest have spotted odd contrails in the sky: donut-shaped smoke rings on a rope of white smoke. Some think the Air Force has built a hypersonic spy plane that can travel at six times the speed of sound. The alleged craft accelerates using a series of explosions. It's called "Aurora."

Many are skeptical. "There's the general impression that in the black world, they can work miracles," says Aftergood. "But I don't believe that's true in this case. Traveling at six times the speed of sound places extreme thermal stress on the outer surface of the airplane. It gets incredibly hot, and the development of suitable materials to withstand that kind of heat has not been done."

Defense Secretary William Perry has flat-out denied the Aurora story, and Ben Rich is also incredulous. Rich says the rumor started when a young colonel at the Pentagon used "Aurora" as code in the defense budget for the B-2 bomber. "Somehow this name leaked out during congressional appropriations hearings," Rich writes. "The media picked up the Aurora item in the budget and the rumor surfaced that it was a top-secret project assigned to the Skunk Works--to build America's first hypersonic air plane."

Rich is dubious about manned hypersonic planes, but he's long advocated missile-like drones, which could be launched from bombers and fly much faster, farther and higher than manned flights. At this point, this much is known: The Pentagon is pursuing spy drones, but it's focusing on stealth and endurance, not speed.

The DOD's Advanced Projects Research Agency has requested bids for a high-altitude endurance unmanned air vehicle. There are two planes in the scheme. Tier II would soar at 65,000 feet nonstop for 30 hours. The second, Tier III-minus, is a smaller, stealthier version. The planes would feed real-time battlefield information back to command posts. Five rival designs were submitted for Tier II, while Boeing and Lockheed are developing Tier III.

Rich also forecasts remote control and robotics as the future of warfare, as the public and politicians get more squeamish about American casualties. Rich also sees a future in technologies to disable enemy armies without killing them: a piercing wall of sound that would stop advancing armies, lasers that would cause temporary blindness, etc.

...Hear No Evil

But even if the Air Force is using Groom Lake to develop the Aurora or some high-tech stereo system that curdles the milk in the teats of cattle, is all the secrecy necessary? After all, photos of Area 51 are widely available--even Russian satellite photos. And under the "open skies" treaty, ratified by Congress and signed by George Bush, even former Warsaw Pact nations now fly over the facility and snap away. "So it's a secret only to the American public," Aftergood notes.

But all this just makes the Air Force more determined. On the road to Freedom Ridge, for example, hikers eventually meet a row of fence poles and a sign that reads: "Warning. Restricted Area. Use of Deadly Force Authorized. Photography is Prohibited."

And the lid is only getting tighter. The Air Force wants to seize roughly 4,000 acres of public land, including Freedom Ridge, where views of the base are clearest. Though there are dozens of military ranges--even bombing ranges--that lack even the most basic warning signs, the Air Force says it needs the additional land around Groom Lake as a safety buffer. No bombs are dropped within 50 miles of the ridge, but the Air Force says it needs to "insure public safety."

This statement from an Interior Department document, however, is perhaps more on target: "Public viewing of military activities (which has often included illegal photography of range activities) has increased during the past few years, necessitating the diversion, postponement or cancellation of missions."

Others sense a more sinister scheme. "I think the Air Force wants more land so it can continue the burning of toxic wastes without people looking in from Freedom Ridge," says Danielle Brian, who directs the Project on Government Oversight in Washington.

Freedom Ridge fans are skeptical of the military's motives for good reason. In 1984, the Air Force seized its first buffer zone around the base in order to pull Bald Mountain, then a prime (though rarely used) viewing location, from the public domain. The Air Force took no legal steps to obtain control of the land it wanted. It simply set up a guard shack adorned with a sign: "Warning. US Government Property. No Trespassing Allowed. Violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

Even those who ran cattle and were working mining claims on the land were turned away by heavily armed guards. "Many people equate this to an armed invasion by our own military," says Glenn Campbell.

At first, the Air Force denied it had anything to do with the guards. Only later, after it officially applied for the land, did an Air Force spokesperson admit his employer had illegally seized the land. "We had no legal authority, but we asserted the right to request that people not enter," the spokesman told Congress.

But even that hearing would not have occurred if legislators hadn't noticed that the Air Force had quietly slipped an additional 4,680 acres into its routine request for reauthorization for the Nellis Air Force Gunnery Range. Despite the foul play, Congress ultimately approved the 1984 land-grab, and Bald Mountain is now well within the restricted area.

But what concerns Campbell is that the Air Force is not doing the job right. "They forgot Tikaboo Peak, where you'll still be able to see the base, although from further away," he says.

Many speculate that the Air Force isn't taking the more distant peak because if it did, the total expansion would exceed 5,000 acres. Under federal law, all expansions over 5,000 acres require congressional approval. "And there's nothing more terrifying to the military than having to deal directly with Congress," Campbell notes.

In the meantime, Freedom Ridge is becoming ever more popular with tourists who come from as far away as Australia to get a last glimpse. The Swiss Mountain Bat, a self-described UFO and aeronut, traveled from Switzerland. "I felt like I was standing next to the Berlin Wall in the '60s," he said. "You're standing there on this beautiful mountain and all of a sudden there's this white jeep and two guys watching you with huge binoculars. It's creepy."

This is a transcript of V.L.'s Custer Meeting in August, 1995. This is a transcript from a tape of a talk that L.V. gave regarding his 12 years at Area 51. V.L. is an upstanding citizen, a gentleman and speaks the truth, this we assure you.

I spent from June of 1965 to August of 1977 directly on the Nevada Test Site, worked there full time. I was Radiation - Health and Safety. Most of the time I worked there, I either worked for Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, Lawrence Radiation Laboratory out of Livermore, Berkeley rather, California or Sandia Corporation out of Albuquerque, New Mexico. All those testing laboratories have since changed their names. Lawrence Radiation Laboratory is now the Lawrence National Laboratory, they donít use the word radiation. In my job we had responsibility for and access to all of the areas of the Nevada Test Site which encompasses about 1800 square miles. It begins north of Las Vegas at Indian Springs where the bombing and gunnery range starts and goes all the way to Beatty, Nevada. Itís an area that has armed guards around it, surveillance devices, itís a restricted air space, you canít fly over it. If youíre caught on it, things happen to you. I had a top secret clearance and I think there probably wasnít a square mile of that test site that I havenít been on or seen, part of which is Area 51. One of the things Iíd like to tell you folks right now is that thereís certain things that I cannot and will not talk about. When you quit out there, quitting what used to be the Atomic Energy Commission, itís now the Department of Energy, itís kind of like quitting the Central Intelligence Agency. You never quit. They never let loose of you. There are certain things that I saw and was part of that I will take to the grave with me without talking about. However, there are a lot of things that I can talk about. And I think the news media has titillated public interest in a very dishonest way because 95% of whatís at area 51 is totally uninteresting, itís very mundane. The federal government tests aircraft at Area 51 that they want to keep secret. To give you an example, when I was out there, during the later years I was out there, they tested the stealth fighter and the stealth bomber, the Blackbird, SR-71 flew in and out of there on a weekly basis. The reason the government uses Area 51 is because it has a 10 mile long runway, absolute secrecy, you canít see anything thatís worth seeing from the air or the ground. And that hill that sits away from Area 51 where everybody goes up and looks, all they can see... we used to sit there and look back at people and do this (wave) because all you can see is administration buildings. Thatís all you can see. The government knows that people are out there looking into the area and because of that a deliberate effort has been made that thereís absolutely nothing to see right there. Now if you go a few miles north, thereís a lot of things that people might want to see but never will. The Dept. of Energy now has yearly tours on the test sight, once a year the families of employees, that belong to certain classifications of workers, are allowed to take bus tours through part of the test site. Itís a very small area that they let people see, itís Frenchman Flat, the flat where the old air bursts, where atmospheric tests were performed. But you canít get within 40 miles of Area 51. As I told Paul Strassels on the radio the other day, there were things I saw and have seen in Area 51 that would make one wonder where they came from. Iíve also seen things out there that violate most of the laws of physics. My degree is in physics, and we , on a routine basis, used to observe... because we worked at night, it was a 24 hour a day, 365 days a year operation out there. And I worked all three shifts, graveyard, swing and days. I worked at night a lot out there. Iíve seen things that most aircraft or no aircraft that I know of could do, do. So the news reports that you hear are accurate to the extent that someone is testing either weapons or various vehicles that go through the atmosphere that use technology that weíre not really in possession of. Now, if that sounds a bit odd, I would say this. The federal government is afraid... in fact we had a whole division of public relations people to feed the public information that was cleansed. The federal government is afraid that if the population of the United States knew some of the things that we have done and have seen and have found, people would panic. And thatís all I can say about that. The other thing is that while we were testing nuclear weapons out there, the last year I was out there, the last full year I was out there, in Ď76, we had 53 or 54 underground nuclear weapons tests. We announced 2 of them to the public. The reason for that was strictly political.

There was a ground swell movement to eliminate nuclear weapons testing, the government didnít want people thinking they were hopelessly contaminating part of Nevada for all times, which they have, itís too late now, it poses no real threat to us, anyway. So they didnít announce those things. I use that as an example of part of which isnít told to the public. There was nuclear weapons testing I was involved in, I should hasten to say that most of that was stockpile testing. We would take a nuclear device out of stock pile and test it, see if it worked. Itís as simple as that. Nuclear weapons tend to deteriorate when they sit around for periods of time. Degrade is the term. We havenít tested at the test site now since 1992. Probably never will again. Thereís a massive clean-up effort out there, that will take a long time. As far as Area 51 goes, I have a lot of friends that work at the test site, still. Area 51 is the most secured area in the United States. Area 51 happens to sit in a place where, as I said, security has to be absolutely tight because itís nothing but desert, government public lands, itís secured public land. A lot of what goes on in Area 51 goes on at night so the Russian satellites canít see whatís going on. Thatís why people from time to time see things. Itís a fascinating place. If any of you have questions of me Iíll either answer them or I wonít but Iíll tell you up front whether I can tell you about it or not. I saw some things in Area 51 that, objects, that were strange, didnít seem to be something that, at the time, we had the capability of manufacturing. I donít know where they came from, I donít know much about them. But I saw what I saw with my eyes. I did ask, on 2 separate occasions, one of caretakers, thatís what we called them, and I was told the first time - donít ask. Now, remember, I had to top secret clearance, I had a need to know. Our group, 80 of us, could go anywhere. We could ask any questions because of what we did. But that was one subject that I was told, donít ask. The second time I asked, I was warned that if I asked again, some rather dire things might happen. So I never asked again. Iím familiar with the Roswell incident in 1947 in New Mexico. I have every reason to believe that the federal government found something there. I have every reason to believe the federal government will never tell what they found there. We have so much paranoia of humans, anyway, if there was any leak that some sort of life form had visited this planet, the federal government is convinced that people would panic and that anarchy might prevail for awhile. Thatís about all I can say. The government is telling people that theyíre dismantling Area 51. I always found that curious because thereís actually nothing to dismantle out there. Everything thatís out there has been brought there from somewhere else. Right next to Area 51 is the Nellis/Indian Springs AFB bombing and gunnery range and thatís where all the armored experiments go on. So itís all kind of part of the same area. There were no nuclear weapons tests that were performed in Area 51. Thatís an area that has been kept pristine, for very good reasons, mostly the other different parts of the test site have starting with Area 1 and ending with Area 26. Every area out there is numbered. Area 51 somehow got a designation of 51. There is no 27 through 50. But somebody decided to do that, itís just like all of our nuclear weapons, they all have names. Every one had a name. That name was a code as to what size it was. The largest, I can say this without fear, the largest underground weapon I ever participated in was a five and a half megaton device, buried 5500 hundred feet below the desert floor, that we set off. Thatís equivalent of 5 and a half million tons of TNT. And that was the biggest device ever exploded in the United States. A larger device than that exploded underneath Amchitka Island (?) in Alaska some years later. There was a nuclear device set off in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, I donít know how many of you people knew that, that was done in the 60ís. Weíve had a number of accidents out at the test site the public never knew about. Iím not really at liberty to talk about that except it may be interesting for you to know that I now live in South Dakota, I donít live in Nevada anymore. And I will never live in Nevada. I personally have 2 body burdens of plutonium 39 in me and if I live long enough and become old enough, I will die of bone cancer. But Iím not worried about that because I knew what the risk was when I got into the business. A lot of the friends and people I worked with are dead now. Itís a very risky, itís a very high hazardous job. Nuclear weapons are something that are, well, there are so many of them that... the hazard that a nuclear weaponry poses isnít blasting people off the face of the earth. We could have a war with Russia and they could have one with us and China and everybody could get involved in it, it still wouldnít wipe out the human race. The problem comes after the bomb goes off because of whatís called fission products. And thatís the contamination that ensues. Itís getting to be a real big problem because of the reactors, the fire reactors create of fission products and debris that weíre having a hard time figuring out what to do with. Probably most of that debris and waste will end up at the Nevada test site and that will be an area that for thousands and hundreds of thousands of years, no one will never be able to live there or, it will be a closed area. Weíre developing the technology now, and I donít mind talking about it because Popular Science came awfully close to the truth here a few months ago in one of their issues and I donít think they even knew it. The Air Force in cooperation with the Department of Defense is developing an aircraft now that will go in speeds in excess of speeds of 10,000 mph which is almost fast enough to achieve orbit without boosters. And that is a nuclear powered thrust system. Whether or not that will ever become public or not, itís hard to tell, because nuclear engines are very dirty. Very dirty. The only other things I can tell you about Area 51 is that there will never, in our life times, be any information let out about some of the things that are out there. I will say that it has become a storage area for oddities. Thatís where, other than Kirkland Air Force Base, the Roswell debris was supposedly taken. All I can say is sometime, during my tenure at the Nevada Test Site, there was debris from Roswell, New Mexico stored away at Area 51. I was lucky enough or unlucky enough to see some of it. I donít take any pleasure in that knowledge because it puts a constrain on me I donít like to have.

Question: Could you describe what you saw concerning the Roswell debris?

Answer: No. Iíll tell you why, folks. I donít know if any of you have been to Leavenworth, Kansas or not but thatís where the federal prison is. Itís hot, itís humid and I have no desire whatsoever to go. I still have a real, legitimate respect for the Department of Defense security. When you leave out there they debrief you. And the debriefing lasted quite a few hours, the better part of a day and the bottom line was - donít talk or else. That was the bottom line. And they gave you a list of things not to talk about. I have not violated any of those this afternoon. Since I left out there, I donít believe I ever have. Iím very careful about it.

Question: I lived near an Air Force base and I used to see unusual things flying about. Are these things terrestrial or extraterrestrial?

Answer: Well, a group of fellows and I were on our way to work one night to the test site. We saw something that to this day.....this was an aircraft of some sort, aircraft being defined as an object in the atmosphere that is moving around. There were 6 of us, we were all trained observers, we were not the type of people who see things go bump in the night, Iím pretty skeptical about things, generally. That aircraft that we saw land, which was next to the test site, did some things that with the technology we had then and probably with the technology we have now, were impossible to do. We saw it, I saw it, the 5 other fellows with me, we stopped the car and got out and watched it for 15-20 minutes. I have no idea what it was. I had access to and was privy to a lot of classified information, for instance, the SR-71 was a common place aircraft to us and yet the general public knew nothing about it. But it came in and went and it made a lot of noise, thatís the only thing I didnít like about it. It came in hot and it left hot. It came in over the speed of sound and it left at the speed of sound. So it was always making this horrible noise. That was a very common thing to see. Some of the other things I saw were uncommon.

Question: Whoís the boss, how did you get hired?

Answer: That was a mundane process. I went out there....

Question: Was it the Department of Defense?

Answer: At the time it was the Atomic Energy Commission when I was hired. And then it became the Energy Research and Development Administration and then it became Department of Energy, the government keeps changing the name. I was there during the visit of two presidents of the United States, Lyndon Johnson was one of them, Gerald Ford was the other one. Neither one of them were shown certain things. The President does not have Top Secret Clearance.

Question: Do you agree or disagree with that?

Answer: Thatís a tough one. We live in a republic, a democratic republic, supposedly. I donít trust most politicians, however, not because theyíre dishonest, necessarily. Nuclear weapons are a very terrible thing. Iím ambivalent about it. I donít know. The time when Lyndon Johnson came out there we tracked him through an area that was hot, none of us had anti-contamination clothing on, we had no instruments, we were dressed just like this, we let him walk through a contaminated area because it wasnít supposed to be contaminated. Thatís all I can say about that.

Question: These things you canít talk about, in your opinion, do you feel it would cause mass hysteria? You seem calm.

Answer: No, it doesnít bother me, I have this belief. We have already been to the moon, okay? Big deal. Itís not going to be too many more years until humans will be to Mars and beyond. Itís a matter of propulsion systems, itís a matter of getting people to the point where they can live in space for long periods of time, either suspended animation or whatever, so they donít come apart, mentally or physically. We have the technology to literally explore the solar system right now, the planets that are in the vicinity of us. And so itís not a big thing. It doesnít take much of a leap, quantum physics tells you accurately that the speed of light is not a speed which beyond is you cannot go. That old theory is gone. Quantum physics says that you may go faster than the speed of light. If thatís true, which it is, then travel to the nearest stars is possible. If we, who are barely out of the primeval mud as beings can do this, it doesnít take much, itís very logical to assume that there are other life forms out there somewhere. Weíre not unique. Good Lord, if we are, itís not much of a testimony is it? There are other life forms, certainly....nothing that I saw surprised me. What surprises me is the governmentís paranoia about what the government knows. Consider the fact that the federal government wonít even tell you the truth about the budget process let alone anything else.

Question: There are some who believe we are already on Mars.

Answer: Well, I donít think so.

Question: Go back to the question whoís the boss.

Answer: Well, during the time I was out there, one of the bosses was Edward Teller. Edward Teller is the father of the hydrogen bomb. He worked for Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, heís still alive and heís as close to being a God in the scientific community and the nuclear weapons community as anybody on this earth. Edward Teller was held in far higher esteem than the President or anybody else. Might be interesting to note and this is not classified, during the time I was out there, the Soviet Union had an exchange program with us. It was not unusual to see Soviet scientists out at the test site on a regular basis. We shared a lot of information with them. I came to the conclusion, having talked to a lot of them over the years, that they were really not our enemies anywhere near to what the politicians wanted you to believe they were. We showed them... I showed them things that I couldnít believe we were showing people from the Soviet Union. And I asked about that and was told that we had an exchange program and they were able to see things and become aware of things that I certainly wouldnít have shown them.

Question: Did they see certain things that you couldnít see?

Answer: No, they couldnít go to Area 51.

Question: Why were we told they were so bad?

Answer: Itís always helpful to a nation to have an enemy.

Question: Between Teller and Oppenheimer, whatís your opinion about Oppenheimer......

Answer: Openheimer was railroaded, he was ruined because of the paranoia that was going on during that time. Robert Oppenheimer to me was a hero in the scientific community and the manís life was ruined because of paranoia.

Question: Teller was kind of a political puppet.

Answer: Edward Teller was the kind of man that would have been loyal to Adolph Hitler or to whoever was the boss, so to speak. I didnít like the man, I still donít like the man. Heís arrogant, he was totally unsympathetic to radiation health and safety, he was totally unsympathetic to peopleís lives and he still is.

Question: I was noticing your medical ID bracelet, is that related to your work?

Answer: I have MS, I also have degeneration of the retina. Itís probably... the exposure I got, the radio isotopes I have in me, itís very probable that my medical conditions are because of what I did. But I want to add, I knew what I was doing, I was paid very well for it and I have no regrets.

Question: This is a stupid question but when they exploded that 5 and a half million ton bomb underground, didnít that make a tremendous noise?

Answer: That was called Box Car, the name of that device was called Box Car. I donít know how they name those things, they all have these strange names. I was on that test. I was assigned to it. When Box Car was detonated, it was 5500 feet under the surface, 5 and a half million tons of TNT equivalent, a device the size of...that log right there. Maybe a little shorter. Ground zero lifted 400 feet for a half a mile radius straight up in the air. And then came back down. What happened then underground would be, small or large, is a cavern is created at the point where the weapon was detonated, of various sizes depending on the size of the weapon. And then the ground starts to slough in all the way to the top, sometimes, Box Car didnít because it was too deep, and you have a crater on top. If you were to fly over the Nevada Test Site, it looks just exactly like the moon. Precisely like the surface of the moon. Thereís hundreds of craters. To give you an example, one device that was set off right after I got out there, in 1966, actually came out of the ground, on purpose. 6.9 million cubic yards of dirt came out of the ground, created a crater, in less than 2 seconds. Thatís a crater a quarter of a mile across and 500 feet deep.

Question: Unintelligible.

Answer: Yes, thatís Hattiesburg, Miss. At one point we had a project out there called Operation Plow Share. Operation Plow Share was designed to create weapons that were capable digging another canal across the isthmus of Panama. So we dug a canal out at the test site. Itís about a mile long, a hundred yards wide and itís probably 400 feet deep. We used 5 nuclear weapons buried at shallow depths to create this ditch, instant ditch, thatís what we used to call it. It was Operation Buggy. And not surprisingly, the people of Panama took exception to us wanting to do that so we never did it. But we tested it. That was very popular in the 60ís, we thought we could use nuclear weapons to do industrial things. But we never could get them clean enough, we got them pretty clean but not clean enough. The clean weapon is a neutron bomb. The neutron bomb could be set off up here, 3-4 thousand feet up, weíd all die, the grass is OK, the trees are OK, the cars are OK but we are water bearing creatures and we would absorb so many neutrons that weíd be dead, instantly. The neutron bomb is in place, most of our intercontinental ballistic missiles have neutron bombs. While I was at the test site, Jimmy Carter promised us that... now I happen to be a registered democrat, so Iím not beating up on a democrat here, Jimmy Carter promised during the campaign of Ď76 that if elected President he would never, ever test the neutron bomb or deploy it. What the American people didnít know was that weíd already tested it. And right after he became President, in the next 4 years, we deployed it all over the world. Thereís no reason to lie to people about that because the neutron bomb, if you have to have a bomb, itís a clean bomb. It doesnít contaminate, hardly at all, itís a very efficient killing machine, yet the federal government chose to lie about it. I donít know why.

Question: Can you tell us how the chain of command goes? I mean if itís not the president who...

Answer: National Security Council, indirectly. The National Security Council includes both the civilian and the military, the National Security Council includes the Joints Chiefs of Staff. Weíve come very close folks, a couple of times, to having a military takeover in this country and Iím not one of those people who goes around saying these things but thatís just a fact. The last one was when Clinton got elected, we almost had a military takeover. The test site was locked down, thatís a term they use, before we had a test theyíd lock the site down. You couldnít go anywhere, for like 2-3 days. And if you were on the test you were locked within a lock down area. After Clinton was elected president that November, the test site was locked down and stayed locked down for 3 or 4 weeks. There was no testing going on. There was some concern about the transference of power during that time from the election to January 27 or whenever it was, January 20th, the inauguration took place. Thereís been some pretty scary things happen. The only reason I knew about it is I worked out there. There would be times when weíd be put on alert, security alert, for reasons that were beyond me. There were times when things went the other way. Before we set Box Car off, I called home that morning and told my wife to put a bowl of water on the kitchen table, now this was 160 miles away, I lived in Las Vegas. I said watch it, zero time is at 5 oíclock. I called from the test site, everyone in Vegas knew, they stopped gambling during that time because of the roll of the dice. Vegas shut the casinos down for a few minutes, just the big ones. Box Car was so big, they had to say something about it, so at zero time, after to detonation, about a minute to 2 minutes later, my wife said that bowl of water sitting on the table splashed over and it actually did fall off the table. And that was 160 miles away as a crow flies.

Question: Unintelligible

Answer: Everything that goes on at the Nevada Test Site is on a need to know basis. There are 3 words that you will hear over and over, every single working day youíre out there, everything is on a need to know. I was going to bring my security badge with me and I forgot it, I still have it. I had a top secret clearance with sigmaís on it. These sigmaís denoted what informational areas I was privy to and one of those areas was Area 51. I got it as a souvenir when I left, I talked the security people into letting me have it. There are all kinds of people in government that do not have the need to know of whatís going on out there, or at least parts of whatís going on out there. And theyíre not told. And that includes the President.

The problem right now in this country is that we donít have an enemy anymore, I only say that half facetiously, weíll create one, one of these days.

Question: I was wondering about your remarks about Clinton, the National Security Council intelligence arm must be pretty poor if they were concerned about the transfer of power to a man like Clinton who has become such a puppet, it just doesnít add up some how.

Answer: I donít mean to sound sarcastic but the term military intelligence is an oxymoron.

Question: Something about propulsion systems, most unintelligible.

Answer: I can say this, anti-gravity devices exist, where they came from, thatís another matter of speculation. Theyíre unwillingness to talk about things like that within the government stems partly from human nature. If youíre privy to some information that you hold dear, regardless of what it is, weíre reluctant to share it with other people. Thatís part of the problem. The other part of the problem is holding on to the information so it can be used militarily. We have become so used to having any enemy in this country and the need to have any enemy, another nation state, thatís itís gotten pretty bad.

Question: What are your personal views about the future?

Answer: President Eisenhower warned us about the military industrial complex before he left office in 1960. I personally believe that thereís a reason we moved to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Partially because weíre at the top of the food chain here and the water chain. I like to live in a place where the water isnít going to be contaminated. I personally feel that thereís a good chance, an excellent chance that thereís going to be limited nuclear war in the next 5-6 years. And whether that escalates into a global confrontation, who knows. But itís going to happen just as sure as Iím standing here. The temptation to use nuclear weapons is getting more and more, tactical, not strategical nuclear weapons, the tactical nuclear weapons. We spent a lot of time out there testing tactical nuclear weapons, 150 kilo tons, 150,000 tons of TNT and less. Small devices, devices that paratroopers can jump out of planes, with them on their back. I can carry one around in a suitcase and the problem with that is, nuclear devices have become so small, so compact, so efficient, that if terrorists ever get their hands on one, and itís amazing that they havenít, absolutely amazing, itís going to make this thing in Oklahoma City look like a walk in the park. Because the first terrorist group that gets their hands on a nuclear know we all used to say, well, China canít do it because they canít deliver the weapons, that was a bunch of hog wash. You donít need rockets to deliver nuclear weapons, all you need is a suitcase, itís that simple. I can give you the address of a company in San Francisco that would be more than happy to send you the blueprints for a nuclear weapon for $19.95.

Question: Something about crop circles.

Answer: You know, those crop circles are amazing, I donít know where theyíre coming from. We had places out in Nevada, there were no crops, it was sand and low bushes, with crop circles identical to those at the test site.

Question: Were we responsible?

Answer: I can tell you one thing, at the test site, it wasnít some prank. In England some say it was some pranksters but at the Nevada test site it wasnít a prank. There are no pranks out there.

Question: No sense of humor?

Answer: You know what, actually thereís a lot of people that work out there that do have a sense of humor. I have friend who has a picture of himself sitting on a nuclear weapon smoking a joint. Now if that were found out, heíd be in really big doggie do-do. But heís a guy that works for Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in New Mexico.

Question: Unintelligible

Answer: You see, the insidious part about what we call reality like radiation... we could be sitting here and right there in that cooler could be a lethal radio isotope of say cedium? 137 or (something) 90 and you would never know it. Unless you had an instrument that detected it or if there were enough of it to where you became sick and got radiation sickness, and subsequently died. A lot of what we call reality, what we see, we hear, we smell, we taste, we feel, isnít quite the way we think it is. From a physics point of view, there is no such thing as color. Weíre all sitting around here seeing colors that donít exist. Light is electromagnetic radiation and itís colorless. Our brains interpret different wave lengths of color through our optic nerve, what our minds call color, green jacket, brown pants, there is no color there. Your brain is interpreting color, different wave lengths and I call it green and I call it brown. We mostly all agree on these things, generally speaking but we all see different things. There is no color. So you have to stop and think about crazy things you see in the sky at night that may or not be unexplainable. To someone else may be very common, very explainable and very ordinary. Iím just about to walk over the edge here... they may not be...if you were to see a person, you may not recognize that person as someone you thought might live on the face of this planet. And thatís all Iíll say about that, I swore to God I wasnít going to say that.

Question: Unintelligible

Answer: If a race of beings had the ability to travel from Alpha Centaur to here, they would certainly have the ability to camouflage themselves, either to where we couldnít detect them or B. - to look like us. Weíre a diverse looking race of beings, they could look almost like anything. Thereís creatures on this planet that look pretty strange.

I have a healthy respect for and a fear of my federal government. Because Iíve seen my federal government do some really bad things to people. There were people out at the test site that were the subjects of radiation experiments, Iíve seen them tie animals down in areas that were going to be tested, we had a tower out there, it was called Bren Tower, it was 1300 feet tall and at the top of that tower there was a reactor, unshielded, small reactor and around the base of that tower for a half a mile or so we would put experiments out, live experiments and see how much radiation they could take. How much gamma radiation, how much beta, how many neutrons they could absorb, these were animals.

Question: When we dropped the bomb in Japan in 1945, we didnít know what the after effects were going to be.

Answer: When we tested the first device in July of 1945, the trinity device, in Alamogordo, New Mexico, the scientists didnít know for sure if that wouldnít cause a never ending chain of reactions and it would absolutely destroy the world. They knew they had x pounds of fissionable material in that trinity device but they didnít know if that would trigger more reactions or not. They didnít know what was going to happen. When they dropped the Fat Boy and Little Man on those 2 Japanese cities, they had all this experience of one device. And they dropped those very dirty devices and the war ended. Personally, I happen to believe that was the thing to do because I think a million or more Americans, soldiers would have died and a lot of Japanese people would have died if we had invaded the homeland.

Something else, we have laser weapons now that make nuclear weapons look pretty weak. We tested a lot a laser weaponry out there when I was there in the 70ís, all kinds of laser weapons. Laser weapons are far more selective. A nuclear weapon is just a great big bomb that blows up and you have the radiation and the heat and the wind and all that. Theyíre not as all destructive as people think they are. The new ones arenít as dirty as people think they are.

Question: Unintelligible.

Answer: What I know about anti-gravity devices Iím not at liberty to talk about.

Area 51 does not deal with nuclear weaponry.

Physics, folks, is advancing in leaps and bounds, all technology is advancing in leaps and bounds. One of the most dangerous things thatís happening to the human race right now is weíre being left behind. I canít even run my sonís computer as well as he can and technology is going faster than our ability to keep up with it. And when I say our ability, Iím not talking about just us, Iím talking about the people that build it. Weíre a couple of years away from artificial intelligence, computerized, artificial intelligence that has the ability to reason, to think, to comprehend existence. If you stop and think about that, thatís pretty scary. It gets to the point where maybe we become liabilities. When I was a youngster, Buck Rogers and all that stuff was science fiction. And itís advancing exponentially. My mother who passed away a few years ago rode on a stage coach here in the Black Hills. She also saw men walk on the moon. Now you take another 20 years from now, and when I say itís increasing exponentially, the graph of scientific knowledge isnít going up like this, itís going straight up, practically. Weíre talking about now, this Area 51 thing, the government will hang on until the last dog dies before theyíll tell you whatís going on out there. Even after it becomes irrelevant anymore, even after it becomes where itís no secret. The government still wonít talk about the things that happened in W.W.II, Iím not talking about nuclear things, Iím talking about the Philadelphia Experiment, and I shouldnít have even mentioned that. The government will not talk about all kinds of things that they already know about.

Question: Something about all the TV programs about UFOís, government ready to tell.

Answer: It isnít the government loosening up, no. I have friends that work in government security. And they absolutely gnash their teeth at the fact that all these things leak out constantly and they lay awake at night trying to figure out ways to plug leaks.

I think I told you all what I could without laying awake tonight wondering if I told you too much, I hope it was helpful. The best thing you can do to keep the society as free and open as possible is to make sure the politicians we elect to office donít allow themselves to be sucked into the vortex of secrecy that the government always wants to have. And if you see anything flying around, believe your eyes, and believe it isnít a weather balloon, if the government says itís something, itís pretty safe to disbelieve them.

*The Daily Revolution offers this reprint for educational purposes only.


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